Growing out of the chaos of a global war, the city of Utopia is populated by humans and bioroids (artificial humans). On the surface, everything is harmonious, but tensions lurk. Into this seemingly perfect society comes a survivor of the wars, Deunan Knute, who carries a legacy that will turn out to be of critical importance to the future of humanity.
Appleseed (AS) tells the story of Deunan and Briaeros, mates on the battlefield. The story revolves around battles, mechas, utopian philosophy and some romance. You will also know about Bioroids, which are cloned humans, but with distinct identities.
--> Animation: (10/10)
Really, earning a 10 from me is tough, but Appleseed really amazed me in terms of sheer graphic quality. It's a perfect blend of traditional animation, coupled with very well made CG. The backgrounds and environments are extremely detailed and well done. The same quality can be found in the character designs. Just see how detailed Deunan's hair is, or how the general mechas are
done. At one point, you see Deunan resting on a bed. As she drops, you can even see the bed sheets crumpling in very realistic ways. Or the various water and nature scenes, specially rain. They are truly magnificent. AS's animation really deserves applause.
--> Sound: (8/10)
Not much to say here, since the music score of AS is not really that varied. The action scenes have their BGM and I can say these were well selected. They really highlight the action. Dramatic scenes too have their appropriate music, and here too, it's ok. Not much to say, nothing bad, nothing absolutely noticeable. Character voices are well done. However, Deunan's voice is kind of too "feminine". Ok, I know she's a girl, but still, after seeing her fight? I'd put a graver voice on her. xD
--> Story: (9/10)
The story too is really awesome. The plot is consistent, and has lots of twists and turns, until you are told of the final secret, which you really don't expect. The plots flow smoothly, giving details as they flow, and not just flood you at the end. It's an interesting story, very sc-fi like, peppered with a good dose of action. You won't be bored watching it. Maybe at the beginning, when there is quite a lot of talking, but it does not last long. It's a nice story about humans, bioroids, how an utopia functions, how humans can be intolerant, and how the desire for total utopia can be bad. It has some subtle philosophy too, mind you! Overall, I liked.
--> Characters: (7/10)
Maybe, this is the only point AS deceived me a bit. The characters themselves are interesting to follow, and learn about. Their stories and backgrounds are very plausible. But what I didn't appreciate is Deunan and Briaeros hogging all the screen time. They are present in almost every scene! What about the side characters? In my opinion, they didn't get developed enough. We could have been given more details about their lives and backgrounds. Consider Hitomi. At the end, we still don't know much about her. About her life after work, her relationships and stuff, even if she's the secondary female lead! Even the main characters Deunan and Briaeros didn't get that much of elaboration. The developers of AS should have included a bit more of character elaboration.
--> Enjoyment: (8/10)
It's not really a light film to just sit there and enjoy. Barely any humor in it. The enjoyment comes from the great storyline and the well-made action scenes. I, personally, really enjoyed it. AS also has a good rewatch value. I have rewatched it 3 times, just for the battle scenes and the story.
--> Outro (Overall: 8/10):
AS makes a good story, combined with well-made animation and ok-type characters. Therefore, it makes a good watch. Go check it out, you will probably not regret it.
I was told this was cyberpunk and expect a dark film. Just reading about it, it would appear that the film is spot on in earning a post-cyberpunk moniker. Perverted uptopia? Check. Mecha/Human enhancements? Check. Violence? Check. Electronic soundtrack? Check. Rainy/depressing environments? Check.
The beginning of the film lives up to these expectations, as well. It opens with a random battle that sets a mood the rest of the movie doesn't follow. Appleseed is too happy, too shallow, too cheesy, and too dull to be considered cyberpunk. The story is very shallow and predictable. Plot twists are figured out long before they are
revealed. The artwork is merely mediocre. I'm not necessarily biased against their choice of making everything 3D, but it doesn't really compare to the handdrawn awesomeness mixed with 3D goodness that is Ghost in the Shell, a series many compare Appleseed to.
The soundtrack is laughably cheesy. The original, "orchestral" compositions are pitiful and sound like they were done in Fruity Loops. The music brought in from popular electronic artists is a lot better, but frequently doesn't fit the mood of the visuals. Sound effects were brilliant, however.
I kept expecting the movie to get better, but the ending isn't really any better than the beginning.
Others have mentioned this is indeed lighter fare, but the action sequences make it worth watching as a mindless action flick. I'm confused, however, because the action is quite brief and downplayed. What is present is talking, and lots of it. They talk so much, but the plot is still so simple. What gives?
In short, don't watch this movie expecting to be sucked into a dark, cyberpunk world with a brilliant story. Don't watch this movie expecting to be dazzled by 3D animation. Don't watch this movie for the fight sequences.
- Great sound effects
- Cool electronic music
- Some intense, wince-inducing hand-to-hand combat
- Beautiful cityscapes
- Shallow, predictable, boring story
- Shallow, under-developed characters
- Not enough action, too much talking
- Music rarely fit the mood of the scene
- Too happy for "cyberpunk"
- 3D animation doesn't fit the characters very well
Appleseed is a film based on the work of Shirow Masamune, the Mangaka behind Ghost in the Shell. The film adaptation was handled by Digital Frontier and the now defunct Micott & Basara. The manga may very well be on the same level as the Ghost in the Shell manga, I don't know since I haven't read it, but the question is whether or not the film is any good.
Deunan Knute is an elite soldier during a global war. During one battle a strange group barges in and takes her to Olympus, a Utopian society where humans are living a peaceful coexistence with a new
species that strongly resembles humans but were artificially constructed and have some distinct differences, called “bioroids.” Deunan quickly learns that not everything is as idyllic as it seems. There are some humans who hate the bioroids and she quickly finds herself entangled in the conflict between two factions, one of which is opposed to bioroids existing and the other which wants to safeguard the society that's been built with its peaceful coexistence. Things quickly become more complicated as Deunan starts getting hints that there may be something deeper behind this conflict.
The biggest flaw of this film is that the main antagonists' plan isn't actually bad. I can't go into many details since its only revealed in the last ten minutes or so, but as soon as it's revealed all the tension immediately disperses because even if they succeed it won't be all that big of a deal. Another problem is with the ending. There's a huge deus ex moment in order to force a “happy” ending. Yeah, if you can't figure out a way for the characters to get out of a scenario without making a bigger sacrifice than you want them to, either change the scenario or have the ovarian fortitude to have a tragic ending with some major sacrifices. The deus ex route is the worst way to go. Then we have the romantic subplot. In theory, the setup could work. The problem is that our leads have no chemistry. There's none shown through the narrative, the animation or vocal performances. Deunan has more chemistry with the bioroid girl who supposedly can't feel love than with this guy. Hell, she has more chemistry with her pistol. There are also some clunky exposition moments where characters go into information that everyone on screen already knows just because the audience doesn't and there's a bit where they have three major revelations in a short span of time and it just comes across as rushed and clunky.
On the positive side, there are some really compelling facets to the world that gets built up in Appleseed. There are also some good ideas behind the various revelations and they could have all really worked if they'd been spread out and developed more instead of clustered together. Aside from the clustered revelations, the pacing works really well and there are a lot of interesting ideas behind the whole thing.
I'll give the film credit for trying to have complex characters, and none of them are badly done, but most of them just don't move beyond bland. Deunan is a pretty good character and there are some interesting things going on with Athena as well. Then you've got characters like Briareos or the elders who are just kind of generic and characters like Hades, Nike, Hitomi or Uranus who have potential but aren't fully realised as characters so it gets largely wasted.
The CG in this is kind of stilted and there are a lot of janky movements. There are also some cases of the characters having awkward expressions that don't really match their dialogue. It's vastly superior to the CG in the Galerians OVA, but that isn't saying much. To be fair, it was made in 2004 and you can understand why it looks like cut scenes from a PS2 game since the technology wasn't really there yet, at least I can't think of a purely CG movie from that time that did it better, but it's still pretty awkward.
There are some pretty solid performances. Kobayashi Ai, Kosugi Juurouta and Koyama Mami do particularly well. The music is okay. It's not particularly good, but it works fine.
There are some scenes, particularly early on, where Hitomi and Deunan seem a bit homo-erotic. Which is a bit disturbing given one of the tidbits of information you get later. There's also a scene where Deunan hugs Athena and her hands go right to Athena's bum. I'm not sure if it's a deliberate yuri moment or just an art fail, though. Since the two of them have barely interacted before that point.
Appleseed is not a bad movie but it's not a good one either. It has some great ideas, but the story is riddled with problems and the characters are largely just mediocre. Maybe the manga's better and features more development for the plot line and characters but for the film I have to give it a 5/10. Tomorrow, I'll continue this week of film reviews with Fusion Reborn.
The plot wasn't all bad. The internal conflict was a particularly fascinating thing, particularly when you find out who the real enemy is. And the idea that a peaceful society is really a cage may be used a lot, but is still interesting in its own way. However, for people like myself who haven't read the manga beforehand, the history of this distopian universe might be difficult to comprehend, thus decreasing any real enjoyment plot-wise, as you're left wondering "why?" the whole time. All you get is that some global war is going on, and then "bam!" suddenly this "utopia" comes into play, and
the previous fighting doesn't mean a thing.
One thing I can definitely agree to is that Appleseed has some truly fantastic animation. Even if it possessed nothing else, that the art is spectacular is something nobody can deny. The opening sequence was especially eye-catching, with the distopian city design.
Being something of a dance music fan, I loved the soundtrack to the movie. Basement Jaxx, Boom Boom Satellites and Paul Oakenfold's work gave me something new to add to my rapidly growing iTunes playlist, and I'm a particular fan of the songs "Good Luck" and "Burns Attack." They all seemed to tie in well with the scene in which they appeared also.
Kinda bland, I have to say. They replace character depth with lots of action, and the writers seemed more interested in displaying Deunan's "kick-assery" rather than her personality. There wasn't as much insight into Deunan and Briareos' relationship as I believe there should've been, and while there was obviously some tension due to Briareos' being a cyborg, I still thought that particular aspect could've been portrayed better. Uranus and Hades were interesting in their dislike for bioroids, and Hitomi was a curious choice for Deunan's "best friend." Otherwise, the stage goes entirely to the Elders, and the choices they made.
Okay, so, Appleseed is nothing spectacular. Shiny fight scenes, boppy music and pretty animation sequences make it worth the watch for some like myself, though if you're looking for intricate plot and detailed characters it may be best to divert elsewhere.
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